ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Dec. 6, 2007)- National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers and their Families have an opportunity over the next six weeks to submit nominations for the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

The award is for employers who have gone above and beyond in their support of military employees. It is the U.S. government's highest recognition given to outstanding employers. Nominations will be accepted at through Jan. 21.

The 2008 recipients will be announced in the spring and honored in Washington, D.C., at the 13th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony on Sept.r 18.

Recipients of the 2007 Freedom Award met with President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright presented the awards at a ceremony attended by members of Congress and senior government and military officials.

The National Guard and Reserve comprise almost one-half of the U.S. military. The Department of Defense shares these citizen warriors with their civilian employers, many of whom provide significant support to their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

Past recipients of the Freedom Award have provided full salary, continuation of benefits, care packages and even home and lawn care to families of employees fulfilling their military obligation.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, known as ESGR, to recognize exceptional support from the employer community.

ESGR is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972. Its mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflicts through informal mediation.

Previous Freedom Award recipients have included such large businesses as General Motors, Starbucks, Home Depot, American Express, Sears, General Electric, DuPont, and United Parcel Service; state and local governments, including the state of Tennessee and the commonwealth of Massachusetts; and small businesses, including the family-owned Augustine & Sons farm in Rose Hill, Iowa, and Turbocam International.

For questions regarding the nomination process, please contact Cdr. Craig Kujawa at 703.696.1386 x514.